FRATZ Reflections Another World - FRATZ Festival

 
FRATZ Reflections Another World - FRATZ Festival
FRATZ           Theater o.N. |

Reflections
Another World
FRATZ Reflections Another World - FRATZ Festival
Imprint

Published by: Theater o. N.
Artistic Directors FRATZ International: Dagmar Domrös,
Doreen Markert, Vera Strobel
Concept FRATZ Symposium: Doreen Markert, Marie Yan
Editors: Dagmar Domrös, Doreen Markert
Layout: Sabine Klopfleisch, d17

Texts by Shelley Etkin, Madeleine Fahl, Jared Gradinger,
Karina Griffith, Christine Matschke, Alicja Morawska-Rubczak,
Angela Schubot, Marie Yan
Translation of Christine Matschke’s and Madeleine Fahl’s
contributions into English: Lydia Baldwin
The German and English versions of this publication are
available at: www.fratz-festival.de

Photos:
“Future Beats”, “Nesting”, “Paired”, “Tipping Utopia”,
Conversation “Did you think of the children?”:
David Beecroft, www.davidbeecroft.de
“YEW:kids”, workshops at Pankow Botanical Park,
“Dream Space”: Sebastian Runge, www.sebastian-runge.com
“KUUKI”: Maciej Zakrzewski/FotoTeatr
Drawings and sketches:
Sketch during the research for “YEW”: Jared Gradinger
“Nesting”, “Future Beats”: Live drawings by Katelyn Stiles,
www.katelynstiles.com

Theater o. N. e. V.
Kollwitzstraße 53
10405 Berlin
Phone +49 (0)30 4409214
info@theater-on.de
www.theater-on.de

Publications
Besides this current issue of FRATZ Reflections. Another World
(2019; in German and English), other publications are also
available at Theater o. N. or free to download:
– Große Sprünge. Künstlerische Begegnungen im Theater
  mit den Jüngsten (2014; in German)
– FRATZ Reflections. The young child as counterpart
  (2015; in German and English)
– FRATZ Reflections. Music theater for the very young
  (2017; in German and English)

© 2019 Theater o. N.
FRATZ Reflections Another World - FRATZ Festival
Contents

Doreen Markert
    Another World
    Mindmap on the symposium topic                                4

Christine Matschke
    Opening spaces for future audiences
    Works by contemporary dance and performance artists
    at the FRATZ International Festival 2019 – An approach        5

Christine Matschke
    Young audience growing wild                                  10

Angela Schubot, Jared Gradinger
   Notes from the research for “YEW”                              12

Shelley Etkin
    Thoughts on “Nesting”
    resonance is relationship                                    14

Alicja Morawska-Rubzcak
     Breath and beat
     On “KUUKI” and “Future Beats”: Two interactive
     performances for the very young                             23

Madeleine Fahl
   “Future Beats” – An interplay for the senses                  27

Marie Yan
   “Did you think of the children?”
   A conversation we started
   Including an essay by Karina Griffith:
   For those children in the lonely place                        30

Authors                                                          36

The drawing on the left (for “Future Beats”) as well as other chalk
drawings in the lyrics by Shelley Etkin (to “Nesting”) and the text
by Madeleine Fahl (for “Future Beats”) have been created by the
artist Katelyn Stiles. She draws live in performance situations, the
pictures are created within a few minutes. Afterwards the specta-
tors were invited to look at the drawings.
                                                                   3
FRATZ Reflections Another World - FRATZ Festival
Mindmap by Doreen Markert on the symposium topic “Another World”, conceptual design period
Design inspired by Carolina Caycedo, “Fair Energy Transition”

4
FRATZ Reflections Another World - FRATZ Festival
Opening spaces for future audiences
   Works by contemporary dance and performance artists at the
   FRATZ International Festival 2019 – An approach
   Christine Matschke
In 1982, Michael Ende, author of books for children and youth,            tives. This quest was also the clear focus this year at the fourth
invited the German Social Democratic Party (SPD) politician               installment of FRATZ International, the interdisciplinary festival for
Erhard Eppler to his home in the Alban Hills near Rome. Eppler,           the very youngest audiences, hosted by Theater o. N. The discourse
also an author, was active in environmental and peace policy.             focused on the role of theater, sensory-aesthetic perceptions of
Together with actress, director and artistic director Hanne Tächl,1       the world and the search for new “alliances and paths – to under-
they freely discussed capitalism, gender issues and the dangers           stand, to create, to change.”6
of growth policies, “far removed from everyday political events.”
In the course of their talk, Ende describes his participation at a
conference of the Swiss Gottlieb Duttweiler Institute in 1979.2
    The occasion to call 200 international top managers to a meet-
ing entitled “The Rationalization Trap” was a technical advance:
microprocessors would now enable machines to replace humans
in work operations. Michael Ende’s task at the conference was
to ask the executives crucial questions and read them a passage
from his novel Momo.
    Ende did just that: He read aloud from his book to the manag-
ers and offered them a simple, yet extraordinary proposal: “I no-
tice that, in our century, hardly any positive utopias are being writ-
ten anymore. The last mostly positively imagined utopias come
from the last century. Think of Jules Verne [...] or Karl Marx [...].
But looking at the utopias that have been written in our century,
from Wells’ Time Machine to Huxley’s Brave New World to Orwell’s
1984, we only find nightmares. The person of our century is afraid
of his own future [...] It is conceived of only in factual constraints.
And constraints make us afraid. The sense of helplessness is so
great that we don’t even dare to consider what we actually would          The search for alternative realities
wish for...” This term alone might have produced skeptical frowns
among the conference members. Michael Ende then suggested                 Theater o. N. has been offering space for yearnings and hopes for
that they imagine themselves one hundred years into the future            forty years. Since its foundation in 1979, the theater, then called
and express how they wished “that the world would appear                  Zinnober, has viewed itself as a sort of dream laboratory. The nine-
then.”3 The managers refused to take part in this “nonsense” and          member collective of actors and puppeteers, nearly all graduates
the event was broken off after half an hour.                              of East Berlin’s “Ernst Busch” theater conservatory, was long the
    In 2019, Ende – ignored as a children’s author and attacked           only independent theater in the GDR. In that niche, functioning as
as an escapist4 – would have turned 90. The world today faces             a participatory democracy, the collective searched for a connec-
the effects of capitalist growth policy more directly than ever,          tion between work and life. It created a kind of “fantastic realism”
as shown beyond all doubt by the “Fridays for Future” protests            with its 1985 play “traumhaft” (“dreamy”), which was literally
started by the youth movement. In times “when certainties erode,          “haunted by dead and still undiscovered yearnings.”7 Personal
future concepts stem more often from technology than from                 and autobiographical themes with potentially universal relevance
sociology and philosophy, and backward-looking ideologies spawn           remain a constant inspirational fuel for the Theater o. N. ensemble,
hopes of salvation,”5 the arts, in particular, are seeking alterna-       also in its youth theater projects.
                                                                                                                                              5
FRATZ Reflections Another World - FRATZ Festival
The theater apparently shares a connection to Berlin’s independ-
ent contemporary dance scene as well, in the resistant desire to
create alternative social norms and values, the belief in collective
forms of shared work and life and the revived interest in the inner
worlds and powers of human beings. Accordingly, artists from
the contemporary dance scene were present at FRATZ for the first
time in 2019. At selected outdoor locations in public urban space,
they created sensory retreats that temporarily suspended a linear
and goal-oriented sense of time. For example, in Pankow Botanical
Park, Angela Schubot and Jared Gradinger invited children aged
three and up into an intensive, interactive encounter with plant
nature. With “Nesting”, Shelley Etkin and Yoav Admoni opened a
dream space of noises and sounds in the ruined Franciscan mon-
astery church in Berlin’s Mitte district. And with the fake lecture
“Tipping Utopia”, Stephanie Maher, co-founder of Ponderosa e. V.,
brought her realized utopia of cooperative social and artistic liv-
ing in the rural East German Uckermark to vibrant life within the      cal approach to dance, sensory perception no longer depends on
sober conference room of the Podewil building.                         visual observation of the environment, but rather opens the body
                                                                       to the world as an organ facing in all directions. Depriving the
                                                                       sense of sight of its dominance also challenges a conventional
                                                                       definition of reality: In our scientifically oriented, logical, rational
                                                                       (western) culture, visible facts are regarded as the most real and
                                                                       credible.
                                                                           To become like plants, as these two artists do, is not only a
                                                                       posthuman act for equal rights of all forms of life. It also rejects
                                                                       of a school of thought that has shaped our relationship to nature
                                                                       for centuries: the dualism of Descartes. The resulting division be-
                                                                       tween mind and body, or between thought and matter, has liter-
                                                                       ally left our understanding of nature empty.9 Jared Gradinger’s ar-
                                                                       tistic approach, inspired by the spiritual naturalist Machaelle Small
                                                                       Wright and others, can be read as an antithesis to Descartes:
                                                                       “Every­thing we perceive is part of nature. And we are not separate
                                                                       from it. Nature is the organization of form. Our quest to define
                                                                       things and our insane ability to objectify everything increases
                                                                       our separation from the world. Once we are aware of this, it’s
                                                                       about finding out about the best way to meet the world around
                                                                       us. And to meet the nature in us. It is just about finding out what
“YEW:kids”: On the (in-)visible and the (in-)credible. Or: To be       resonates within you.” Gradinger thus advocates a vitally creative
in the world with the whole body                                       relationship between humans and nature, conceived of more as
                                                                       a flat, net-like, eco-systemic and co-creative exchange structure
“Plants have no eyes. So for our work, we wanted to find a physical    rather than as a goal-oriented, exploitative hierarchal pyramid,
condition in which there is no front. That’s why we sit back-to-       with humans, the crowning glory of creation, standing on its peak.
back so often, to create the 360-degree angle that plants have,”           Separating humanity from nature rejects a qualitative concept
said Angela Schubot in an email interview with the author. Dur-        of perceiving the world: “When I see a tree, I do not first perceive
ing their symbiotic duet in “YEW:kids”, Angela Schubot and Lea         something quantifiable. Rather, I perceive the quality, the essence
Kieffer8 closed their eyes, or held an absent gaze: “I would rather    of tree, the green, the liveliness and all its characteristic features.
say that the eyes are implicit in the rest of the body and try to      These are all qualities that I cannot measure, weigh or count, but
pull everything inwards,” explains Jared Gradinger. The blindness      that I have to experience at first. And to do that, of course I also
that comes along with turning one’s sight to the inside is only a      first have to learn how, to practice and become educated. The
presumption. In Angela Schubot and Jared Gradinger’s philosophi-       Greeks and other cultures knew this and their pedagogy had this
6
FRATZ Reflections Another World - FRATZ Festival
goal.”10 Even though Schubot & Gradinger certainly do not aim to          children are concerned about whether they should expect the kids
educate through their work, there is a certain common ground              to “handle that.” But with another understanding of attendance
here.                                                                     as active, fully physical involvement and participation in a larger
   In digital times, in which the visual dominates our perception         system, the question of what one may or may not show children
and other senses become increasingly impoverished, it seems               would be a different one.
more crucial than ever to expose children to “real” experiences
where they can sense the world with their whole bodies. Not in            “Nesting”: A permeable shelter for the imagination
order to learn a skill, but to maintain a “childlike” ability to detect
resonances and enter directly into contact, as the young audience         The FRATZ Atelier, a three-day experimental room called “Nest-
did during “YEW:kids”.11 Then pedagogy might be no longer a pro-          ing”, for children aged three and up, also took place outdoors.
cess of educating, but a practice of mutual learning, of humans           The sculptor, dancer and performer Yoav Admoni built a walk-in
from nature and of adults from children (within a dramaturgically         wooden sculpture in the rear section of the Franciscan monastery
framed, dynamic field).                                                   ruins in Berlin’s Mitte district. The round, scaffold-like gathering
                                                                          space with an open top is reminiscent of a yurt, or of a spaceship
                                                                          capsule. Neon-colored nets made by textile designer Layla Klinger
                                                                          are stretched between struts. They replace the walls of the sculp-
                                                                          tural building, turning it into a permeable space of transformation
                                                                          that takes in the surrounding urban landscape with its prevalent
                                                                          conditions of light, temperature and noise.

The “wild”12 behavior of the young audience during “YEW:kids”
seems much closer to Schubot’s and Gradinger’s understanding
of theater than that of the adults’, socialized as a theater audi-
ence. Even a fully-grown body is still a resonating body. Yet, adults
have often forgotten how to follow their intuitive and spontane-
ous impulses, their own inner physical reality. Angela Schubot
conveyed how this could work during a workshop on biorhythm               The concept of this permeable shelter is the work of the interdis-
at the FRATZ Symposium. Here, the participants could try to feel a        ciplinary artist15 Shelley Etkin. Like her colleague Jared Gradinger,
biorhythm inherent in the body (and the world) through a simple           she follows nature closely in her approach, working at Gut Stolzen-
exercise that keeps a body moving beyond all voluntary actions            hagen (Ponderosa e. V.) in Uckermark, Brandenburg and other lo-
and connects it to the world from within. Starting with an image          cations. “Nesting” relates to a term already framed within Etkin’s
of physically melting into the earth, the seated participants sank        work: With “landing,” she refers to processes of arriving in the
gradually from the head downwards into a slump, then rose to sit-         body and at a place, as opposed to the term “land” as a limited ter-
ting upright again just by following a natural inner impulse.             ritory. In “landing sessions,” the artist explores with participants
   I would like to state here that “YEW:kids”, inspired by somatic        aspects such as colonialism and migration, healing, emotional
practice, calls not only for new performance aesthetics that place        knowledge and communication through body and movement.
“inner intensities”13 in a dynamic, performative force field,14 but       The method of imaginative journeys informs her work. “Nesting”,
also for a new understanding of the spectator. Often, parents and         developed in collaboration with the actress Iduna Hegen of
educators attending contemporary dance performances with                  Theater o. N., was inspired by this research.16
                                                                                                                                             7
FRATZ Reflections Another World - FRATZ Festival
long journey, maybe by hitchhiking. Or on foot? We could easily
                                                                          believe it of this jaunty choreographer and improvisation artist
                                                                          from the USA.
                                                                              Maher, who has lived and worked in Berlin since 1998, is a co-
                                                                          founder of the rural headquarters of the international dance scene
                                                                          of Berlin, Ponderosa e. V. in Stolzenhagen, Uckermark. She started
                                                                          the non-profit association on the estate of a former farm coopera-
                                                                          tive at the end of the 1990s, along with her husband Uli Kaiser,
                                                                          who co-occupied the K77 dance studio squat in Berlin’s Kastanien-
                                                                          allee, and a few freaks from the post-hippie scene of San Fran-
                                                                          cisco, all now established choreographers. Every summer, around
                                                                          a hundred dancers and people interested in movement meet here
                                                                          near the Oder to work, relax and do research.18

“Nesting” proved to be a place of temporary arrival and retreat
(from the big-city tumult) while attending the festival. As when
entering a yurt, the young visitors were invited to remove their
shoes as they stepped into the sculpture. Leaning against the
net-like walls in a seated circle, wrapped in wool blankets, they
partook in an intimate ceremony of sound. A perception of the
setting as partly staged, partly drawn from the surroundings
pushed the sense of sight to the background here, too. Kneeling,
sometimes with closed eyes as if meditating, the performers
Shelley Etkin and Iduna Hegen made sounds from a pre-linguistic
(children’s) world to tell fairy tales, spanning a dramatic arc of ten-
sion with corresponding intonations. Some animal-like noises also
emerged during their collective-individual fantasy journey. The vo-
cal performance led to a more conscious perception of the sounds
of the nearby cityscape and a kind of noise-filtering process:
ambulance sirens in the distance, birdsong just behind the ruined
walls. Then another snarl, a growl, a croak from the performers.
The term “landing” gradually took shape as a concept of self-ori-
entation that found its expression in a personal sense of physical,
sensual, resonant integration with the world, in the “interplay be-
tween external perceptions and internal experiences.”17 Another
scene with a singing bowl gave both children and adults a special
experience: Iduna Hegen slowly made the bowl full of water re-
sound. Vibrations that would otherwise have been solely audible
could be seen in the bubbling water. Those who wished could also
step into the (empty) singing bowl themselves and test the vibra-
tion resonance with their bodies.

“Tipping Utopia”: Anarchy in Brandenburg. Or: An experiment in
living out dreams

Suddenly she’s standing in the doorway. Cowboy hat, backpack,
long skirt, boots: Stephanie Maher looks as if she’s just finished a
8
FRATZ Reflections Another World - FRATZ Festival
challenge for me,” reflects Theater o. N. actress Iduna Hegen, who
                                                                          was in Stolzenhagen to prepare for “Nesting”. “If I hadn’t had a
                                                                          task, I would have been totally lost.” Shelley Etkin describes a few
                                                                          children playing with bulky rubbish who kept saying, “I’m an art-
                                                                          ist.” Another woman adds: “When I come back to my one-on-one
                                                                          relationship in Berlin, it always feels suddenly very strange, almost
                                                                          lonely.”
                                                                              At the end of the lecture, Ponderosa appears to be a giant puz-
                                                                          zle whose pieces are constantly being reassembled. As Stephanie
                                                                          Maher points out during the performance, Ponderosa is also
                                                                          changing. Not only because it currently lacks active young artists
                                                                          to take over the rooms as living and working spaces on the estate
                                                                          and its extension, the nearby art space “Betonnest”(Concrete
                                                                          Nest), but also because, this year, it has started offering events for
                                                                          youth and young adults from the surrounding region. Of course
                                                                          this will not halt the increasing polarization of society. But at least
                                                                          some options to resist it do exist: Alternatives like art, solidarity
Ponderosa stands (in the author’s personal memory) for freedom,           and social and ecological responsibility.
chaos, creativity and community building. Or, more officially, “for
the attempt to develop an alternative micro-society [...] in rural ar-
                                                                          1    Hanne Tächl, who died last year, was artistic director of the “kommunalen
eas, in which artistic creation goes hand in hand with a sustaina-             kontakt-theater”, now “Kulturkabinett” in Cannstatt from 1976 to 2007. She
ble way of life.”19 With her three-year art project “Tipping Utopia”,          is regarded as a pioneer in the field of autobiographical theater work with
which starts in 2019, Maher wants to sound out “the potential of               laypersons. https://www.stuttgarter-nachrichten.de/inhalt.die-ehemalige-
                                                                               kkt-intendantin-hanne-taechl-ist-tot-theaterfrau-mit-courage.8cb030bf-d27a-
performative practice” at Ponderosa “based on moments of tip-                  468d-b92d-ff837e404706.html (in German)
ping and failure.”20                                                      2    The Gottlieb Duttweiler Institute, a research institute, is the oldest think tank in
    Her eponymous Fake Lecture, for which she now stands, look-                Switzerland. It was founded in 1963 by Gottlieb Duttweiler, who also started one
ing (pretending to be?) somewhat uncertain and aimless in the                  of the largest Swiss retail companies, the Migros Cooperative.
                                                                          3    The conversation between Michael Ende, Hanne Tächl and Erhard Eppler
sober conference hall of Podewil, is an autobiographically-inspired            appeared in 1982 under the title “Phantasie/Kultur/Politik: Protokoll eines
performative talk as part of the FRATZ Symposium “Another World”.              Gesprächs”, Edition Weitbrecht in Stuttgart. Ibid., p. 20 f.
    It quickly becomes clear that the boundaries between reality          4    Barbara Möller: “Komm, wir stehlen uns die Zeit”. In: “Die Welt”, 23 February
                                                                               2016. https://www.welt.de/print/die_welt/kultur/article152535887/Komm-wir-
and fiction are fluid here. Maher’s artistic approach could be                 stehlen-uns-die-Zeit.html
understood thus: To live might always mean to live one’s dreams           5    Hubert Winkels, Head of DLF Literature Editorial Department: “The Frankfurt
as well. However, she seems to have been attracted foremost to                 Book Fair 2019”. In: Deutschlandfunk Program Guide, October 2019, p. 3
chaos as a creative force. After introducing herself and unpacking        6    Program booklet FRATZ International 2019
                                                                          7    Gunnar Decker: “Der Tautropfen der Welt”. In: Theater der Zeit, November
various objects from her backpack, she sings her favorite song to              2015. Christine Matschke: “Poetische Widerständler”. In: Die Deutsche Bühne,
the symposium guests – the song, played on vinyl, accompanies a                December 2016
small tea ceremony every morning at her home. She then gives us,          8    Representing Jared Gradinger
                                                                          9    Ende/Tächl/Eppler, p. 32
the temporary community, an insight into her own personal, self-          10   Ibid., p. 33
taught Kundalini yoga practice. Everyone can participate, raising         11   See Christine Matschke: “Wildwüchsiges Kleinstpublikum”, published on
their arms and breathing vigorously in and out one hundred times.              tanzschreiber.de, May 2019
After this warm-up, she invites us to take part in a transformation       12   Ibid.
                                                                          13   See Astrid Kaminski: “Innere Intensitäten”. In: tanzraumberlin, January/February
process as simple as it is ingenious: Over the course of two min-              2019
utes, everyone can make a change within the room.                         14   See Sabine Huschka and Barbara Gronau: Energy and Forces as Aesthetic
    In a heartbeat, that Ponderosa feeling is back again, tumbling             Interventions. Politics of Bodily Scenarios. transcript Verlag, 2019
                                                                          15   She works in the field between dance, performance, ecology, queer feminism,
you – for better or for worse – right out of your tidy everyday Ber-           curation, pedagogy and community organization. www.shelleyetkin.com
lin life. We’re no longer just sitting on chairs, but on the floor too.   16   Program booklet FRATZ International 2019
Books, clothes and photos are strewn everywhere and in addition           17   Ibid.
to Steph Maher, other old and new Ponderosa artists are getting           18   Astrid Kaminski: “Eine Spur Post-Hippie-Szene”. In: taz, die tageszeitung,
                                                                               16 August 2017
involved in the conversation. A collective gathering of personal          19   Program booklet FRATZ International 2019
and shared experiences gets underway: “Ponderosa was a great              20   Ibid.

                                                                                                                                                                 9
FRATZ Reflections Another World - FRATZ Festival
Young audience growing wild
     Christine Matschke

In “YEW:kids”, the children’s version of “YEW:outside” shown at          In the sunshine between beehives and an avenue of fruit trees,
this year’s FRATZ International festival for very young theater au-      Angela Schubot prepares the children for an encounter with
diences, a post-humanist approach by duo Schubot & Gradinger             living beings that have neither eyes nor a front, like a tree. And
meets with direct physical resonance.                                    for invisible encounters, such as via body heat. The forty-minute
                                                                         performance walk takes the group, including a few big kids in the
                                                                         field as well (performing arts for children and youth, puppetry,
                                                                         education and dance journalism), through meadows, fields and a
                                                                         strip of bordering forest. Angela Schubot (choreography and per-
                                                                         formance), Stefan Rusconi (sound) and Lea Kieffer (performance,
                                                                         standing in for Jared Gradinger) sensually prepare the participants
                                                                         for the extreme body-as-nature, boundary-dissolving movement
                                                                         language of Schubot & Gradinger.
                                                                             As if on a walk to study medicinal herbs, we taste sorrel leaves
                                                                         and learn that plants, too, have languages and interactions with
                                                                         their environment. Through an app, the sorrel’s organic impulses
                                                                         representing the entire flora (“mugwort, nettle, beech, ...”) are
                                                                         transformed into harp and drum sounds. In a circle ceremony we
                                                                         call on the mineral, plant and animal kingdoms with small, angu-
                                                                         lar, twisting and fluttering hand gestures and “plant” ourselves
                                                                         with hands or feet into little holes in the ground. In short, we do
                                                                         things that give us physical, sensual, intuitive access to the world.
                                                                         Moments arise that rattle our rationally-based social values, our
“What are they doing?” asks Nele, sitting by a hole in the ground        established concept of the world that still allows us to maintain
next to me. I say: “I don’t know. What do you think?” Silence. The       our (supposed) supremacy in the hierarchy of living beings.1
little girl, whom I had just gotten to know ten minutes earlier over
a musical sorrel leaf, gets up and goes to the other kindergarten
children. They are buzzing curiously around Angela Schubot and
Lea Kieffer. The two dancers are deep within a symbiotic duet and
seem unaware of the young visitors.
    “YEW:kids” is a nature-oriented outdoor performance by
Angela Schubot and Jared Gradinger for people aged three and up,
produced by Theater o. N., which hosted the FRATZ International
interdisciplinary theater festival for the fourth time this year. With
the theme “Another World”, the current festival represented art-
ists from Berlin’s contemporary dance scene as a welcome new
inclusion. They used and created oases in public urban spaces; in
the prosaic conference room at Podewil, they evoked their own
social utopia, an actualized project in Berlin’s surrounding region.
Schubot & Gradinger’s children’s version of “YEW:outside”, per­
formed in the Blankenfelde-Pankow Botanical People’s Park,
pro­ved to be a special experience, widened in unexpected ways by
the very young audience.

10
Angela Schubot and Lea Kieffer sit in the meadow back-to-back,
their arms and legs folded like embryos. Their pulsing motions,
the contracting and opening of their limbs and bodies and their
unselfconscious, absent gazes merge them into one strange
creature. The children’s reactions range from confused to fasci-
nated: “That’s impossible,” the biggest boy in the group repeats
over and over, and approaches the physical enigma as if driven
to do something about it. He tickles Schubot and Kieffer on the

                                                                          1   “The Nature of Us,” the final piece in Schubot & Gradinger’s posthuman tril­o­g y,
                                                                              breaks with the previous performances. The harmonious, connecting at­mo­
                                                                              sphere is replaced by a seemingly dystopian scenario, at the end of which a
                                                                              group of spectators are symbolically placed under the performers’ protection.
                                                                              Presumably, the plant world would have better chances of survival after an
                                                                              environmental disaster than humans would …

feet. No reaction. Another child says: “Now the humans have
turned into plants.” The cluster abruptly dissolves and the children
explore the nearby surroundings in small groups, in peaceful co-
existence with the dancers’ duet. As the dynamics of the chore-
ography swell, they swarm back to Schubot and Kieffer. The little
crowd follows along beside the moving body sculpture with loud
squeals, responding instantly to every change of movement and
direction.
    Later, on a meditative silent walk, connected to each other
by a hand-held rope, the children discover mysterious sounds
and the sight of two naked bodies from behind, standing as if
buried headfirst on the side of the path. Between fallen trees
and branches woven into a tent, they are invited to make sounds
to accompany Schubot and Kieffer’s movements at the perfor-
mance’s end. Some children sound aggressive, as if they wanted
to interfere, some simply accompany without intention. One girl
howls fervently, like a little wolf. After their ecstatic choreographic
climax, as the two dancers sit back-to-back and abruptly lift their
heads towards the sky, a child says: “I just saw you there in the
forest, with your head in the ground.” Angela Schubot answers:
“Nah, that can’t be. I was just flying. Up there.”

                                                                                                                                                              11
Angela’s notes

Sitting by the Artemisia/Beifuss:
the whisper-wind-tide, my hair melts into the
leaves. … she makes me sing … but sing as a
human … not sing “her,” not sing “for her,” but
sing with her. as a human, joining the wind. every
plant is different in that way … i start to under-
stand that. some like to be sang to. some trans-
form me and open places in me i never felt, as if
they sing through me, sound through me. some
want to sing to­gether. (maybe this is also always
changing … always different?)

Sitting with the Beech:
… her mightiness scares me … am i too trustful?
we can’t communicate. yet.

“i will be there” it says. and “i am losing you,
i keep on losing you.”

and feeling how she can “talk,” be with more peo-
ple at once of course. like she has mouthes and
ears everywhere and in so many different times …
that it can be with so many things and beings at
the same time, and talk to them. … something
non-human and being so welcomed in it, floors
me.

Sitting with the Yew:
it’s working you from up till down. … cosmos
rather than earthy. it pierces the sky. in a high
note. it feels uncomfortable, merciless, equal,
does not give away her love to individuals …

Sitting with one another/the Jaredplant:
we used to sit with plants/trees, doing “noth-
ing,” just “receiving,” we did that today with one
another … like the other is the plant we are sitting
with. one at a time. it was so insane and beauti-
ful, unsnareable, unclassifiable … even hard to
remember … on a really strange plane of reality …
trying to feel the other … trying to be there for
the other, with that same “tuning” you are with
plants.

12
Jared’s notes
LOOP OF RECIPROCITY

we will be the dreaming plant in the middle of
dark winter where the plants are awake we
dream for them.

yew. 7 bodies + 11 minus absence of 11. could see
the ground moving waves of feeling paganism
says there is another world but it is still this one.
can we try? we can grow so many hearts/leaves

is that actually where your heart is? do you have
more than one heart? heart in every cell? sadness
comes from you to me, amplifying mine. i need
you here. the seed. the potential of fire. of flame.
of reincarnation. the shit/burnt seed from the
ashes. i sleep with you i die with you.
so much softness and movement. not a tree nor
a plant. but an angela. an angela plant. like a song
singing a song. i hear digestion in your spine. oth-
erness offers you yourself. violence as a cleanse as
a cure. violence as reality to create space. destruc-
tion can be joy. sadness comes from you to me.
amplifying mine. it is only an offer.

oak in cool november tuesday with full warm sun
shining through the last leaves ground covered
with the summer work to feed the earth for win-
ter. roots like crocodile floating on the lake – feel
my heart like a magnet. everything gonna be ok
humbleness hubris calm the quiet of change. defi-
nite power where the branches start. hard thick
wood like living stone. all of those things weren’t
for you they were of you …

if we want to make the invisible visible we need
to be fully transparent.
it’s not about talking to the trees and plants it’s
about listening to them.

                                                        13
Thoughts on “Nesting”
by Shelley Etkin
resonance is relationship

is it a spaceship?
is it a cradle?
is it a cave?
is it a womb?
is it a cell?

is it open?
is it mine?
is it yours?
is it ours?
is it an “it”?

what are the cultures of this nest?
what ways of being with oneself,
with each other, with place does
this nest support?
who lives in this nest?
how can we learn from and with
young beings, who may have
just begun to distinguish between
themselves and the world
around them?

14
we are nesting in this place
 we placed it here for now
             we are always
         in particular place

        lay your body down
   in the belly of the beast

         let the insides and
             outsides blend

                          15
improvised lullabies came
                                      singing bowls came
                                  wood and pink string came
                              wood became sanded and sculpted
                            string became knit, woven and bound
                     humans came, very young and older and in between
                 curved spines reclined, close to the ground, opening to the sky
                     breath became wind became sound, rising like smoke

how do we invite?
how does the nest host?
can our listening support their listening?
what do we dream from this place? in this place? of this place?
how much and how little to offer?
what are we doing here?
who are we here?

                                                           sound is always contained in listening
                                                     within and around us are many membranes

                                             rocking
                                              singing
                                             swaying
                                             brewing
                          we tried to practice flying through our voices

16
17
is it a lighthouse?
are we conducting rods?
is it an anchor?
are we hiding in plain sight?
is it an unidentified flying object?

                                                     this nest is a non-invasive presence in place
                                                                            for temporary landing
                                                                                   and journeying

migratory animals
find places to stay a while
restore and build the next generation
these places are not to be conquered, settled, or owned
they are temporary habitats

                                                                                                19
what is in the center?
how can we orient inwards and outwards at the same time?
to the margins, the whole city, beyond?
where are our centers?

                                                       this is not about us, it’s about something
                                                          much older, much bigger, much longer

is it a hole?
is it a bathtub?
is it a basket?
is it a portal?

                                          we try to acknowledge the habits of territory we make

                                        when birds build nests,
                   their architecture sources from the surrounding environment
                                  a nest’s place is reflected in its form
                                               in this nest,
                          it is the experience of temporarily being together
                               which forms the experiential-architecture
                                             a living process
                                                of nesting

20
Breath and Beat
   On “KUUKI” and “Future Beats”: Two interactive performances
   for the very young
   Alicja Morawska-Rubczak
In this text I would like to closely consider two interactive per­     ented and dedicated dancers, Maho Harada and Noriko Matshuda.
for­mances created especially for very young spectators: first,        This team was joined by an outstanding Japanese accordionist,
“KUUKI”, a co-production of Japan Union of Theatrical Companies        Kanako Kato, who has won multiple awards for her original work,
for Children an Young People (Tokyo/Japan) with Art Fraction           both in Japan’s Accordion Competition and abroad in the French
Foun­da­tion (Poznań/Poland), and secondly, Theater o.N.’s piece      Accordion Contest. Outside of Japan, she has collaborated with
entitled “Future Beats”. Both productions are dedicated to the         artists from Nordic countries (Sweden, Norway, Finland) and from
youngest age group: children under two years old, accompanied          Italy, England, and France. “KUUKI” is her debut in theater for very
by their trusted adult caregivers.                                     young children.
    As “KUUKI’s” director, I want to share the experience of the
production process and present some initial inspirations and ideas
that arose during its development. Further, I will reflect on the
German production in relation to some basic concepts in “KUUKI”,
such as considerations on children’s subjectivity, their participa­
tion and exploration of spaces, and the role of adults.

“KUUKI” – Creation process
The performance piece “KUUKI” is a Japanese-Polish production,
for which JIENKYO in Tokyo engaged the creative duo of Barbara
Małecka and Alicja Morawska-Rubczak. For nearly ten years we
have been active in developing the growing field of theater for the
youngest in Poland and in promoting Polish theater for children
internationally. As a stage designer-director team, we create per­
formances aimed at children younger than three years. In addition
to our artistic work, we have also created the most significant
international festival of arts for the early years in Poland: Sztuka
Szuka Malucha.
   “KUUKI’s” premiere (in July 2017 in Poznań and Tokyo) was pre-     This collaboration highlights the practice of inviting outstanding
ceded by actions promoting theater for the early years. In Tokyo       artists from outside the world of arts for children to create per-
in Autumn 2016, we gave a lecture to an audience of almost a           formances for babies; I had developed this procedure in the field
hundred, and held a series of workshops for artists, educators and     in Poland with world-renowned composer and musician Waclaw
students interested in this field of the arts. Furthermore, activi-    Zimpel, who previously created music for three of my pieces.
ties before and during the production period were attended and             In addition to the cast, we also invited the most engaged indi-
documented by a group of Japanese researchers, including Miki          viduals from the workshops to take part in the intensive training
Kawanaka, Maho Nakaichi and Ai Osawa.                                  that opened our rehearsal period in June 2017. During this process,
   The workshop was a form of audition, enabling us to select the      we explored the essence of air, the subject of the piece, and tested
cast for our production. This was an excellent opportunity to see      our creative tools for works for babies. Furthermore, we focused
the artists in action, get to know them and learn some of their        on social and cultural aspects of creating performances for fami-
thoughts, preliminary assumptions, expectations, and ideas about       lies with infants within the very specific context of the country
theater for babies. We accepted four candidates for a second           and era in which they live and grow up. It was greatly significant
qualification and finally created the performance with two tal-        to me to share a comprehensible method of creating performanc-
                                                                                                                                        23
es for the very young and to inspire the artists in their creative       set, and the breathing of the accordion and of the dancers as an
research. Most of all, I wished to convey to the whole team the          essential element of the soundscape and the choreography, en-
importance of treating their audience seriously and building an          hanced by balloons attached to dancers’ bodies. The set design is
artistic dialog. Finally, I wanted to emphasize that art for babies      neither complicated nor extensive; its essential elements are ma-
can be a great answer to our adult questions about the human             terials that became a sort of onstage partner for the performers.
global condition today.                                                  A transparent curtain, dividing the stage into two sections, moves
                                                                         whenever the dancers start to move. The elastic material con-
                                                                         necting the dancers’ bodies at the beginning of the performance
                                                                         creates wind and influences the whole choreographic sequence.
                                                                         So do the balloons that fly and dance, defining the stage set, while
                                                                         also motivating the audience to participate.

                                                                         “KUUKI” – Concepts of participation
                                                                         Everyone – from young to old – experiences it daily, yet air con-
                                                                         stantly mystifies us with its elusiveness and invisibility, enchants
                                                                         us with the promise of buoyancy, allures us with the possibility of
                                                                         flight and twirling. The dancers and musician of “KUUKI” draw the
                                                                         viewers along on a search for the materiality of this very fleeting
                                                                         element. They invite the air to be touched, felt, heard and experi-
                                                                         enced by the audience. Artists, babies, and their caretakers look to
                                                                         each other for mutual inspirations. Movement, sound, and image
                                                                         are filled with air. Thus, the “kuuki” became one of the actors shar-
                                                                         ing the stage with the audience.
                                                                             To make air more visible, we wanted to experiment with the
                                                                         children’s perception and focus. Thus, the first part (about twelve
“KUUKI” – Inspirations                                                   minutes) is a choreographed dance sequence, during which the
For the initial process of developing “KUUKI”, I considered the          audience is asked to watch, rather than act. This does not mean
cross-cultural context in which we would be working. Moreover,           that the performers reject interaction. However, to build a certain
I searched for a theme that could connect us all, regardless of our      tension, anticipation and curiosity about the world behind the
experience, country of origin and age. The solution was banal            curtain, we ask parents to sit with their children on pillows in the
and very ambiguous at the same time: The air is essential to all         seating area. After the curtain has opened, the performers invite
of us. My production development preparations coincided with             the families to explore the hidden world of the aspects of air. The
a difficult period of high air pollution and an increasing problem       style of participation is entirely up to the viewers. They are not
with smog in my country. Thus, the topic turned out to be political      required to do anything, which results in very diverse dynamics
as well as vital. I discussed all these ideas with the creative team     in this segment – from calm, complete withdrawal to active co-
during the entire rehearsal process. Although we do not relate this      creation or to playful, even fully destructive force. In this second
experience to the audience, the process of building meaning and          part, spectators become “spect-actors.” This expression from
sense pulsates through the bloodstream of the production, sets           Augusto Boal can be very useful in describing the audience’s role
its rhythm, and imbeds itself in the unspoken. It also brought us        in performances for the very young, and is also helpful in depict-
closer to our choice for the title of the piece. 空 気 (kuuki) is the      ing some participation strategies in “Future Beats”.
Japanese word for air, but it consists of kanji signs defining sky,
atmosphere, and energy at the same time. This word became a              “Future Beats” – Reflections
guidepost for us in our scenographic and choreographic research          “Future Beats” is Theater o.N.’s first production dedicated to
and also found its echoes in the musical composition. The par-           children this young (from 6 months to 2 years old), which im-
ticipation of set designer Barbara Małecka and composer Kanako           pacted the creation process tremendously. No boundary appears
Kato in the entire creative production process strongly influenced       between the performers and spectators. Three creators perform
the quality of the work.                                                 in the midst of the audience. In a smooth division of roles, just
    In closing, it is worth mentioning a few of the air-inspired ideas   for the sake of order, we could divide them as follows: dancer
that we developed in “KUUKI”. In the field of scenic design, we use      Nasheeka Nedsreal, musician Bernd Sikora and musician/perform-
air plants and kokedamas (hanging/flying gardens) as part of the         er Andreas Pichler. They create the entire stage world with their
24
bodies and voices and by playing specially designed instruments.
Built and invented by Bernd Sikora, the musical objects are artistic
sculptures made of resounding elements, lights and design details
that reveal themselves as a source of creative stimulus. During the
interactive performance, they are not only used by the perform-
ers but also discovered and explored by the little ones and their
trusted adults (indispensable partners supporting every action
and interaction). The audience members are co-creators in the
whole process – visible, audible, resonating in the space. Even
their passivity is never truly passive, but is rather a less visible, less
distracting form of activity with a different energy. The creators
want to include these energies and treat them with respect.
I relate powerfully to this idea of treating the audience very seri-
ously, with the greatest respect and awareness of its needs. When
making performances for babies and their caretakers, we need to
address their comfort and safety, but also be open to their differ-
ent ways of participating.
    Looking at the diversity of those two productions with their
different aesthetic and artistic conceptions, I found, in addition to
some shared participation strategies, a significant common factor
between them: The immersion of the stage world into the most
primary natural elements or activities of all human beings – the
breath and the heartbeat. We could call them the foundational
concept of these productions. These vital elements – the heart-
beat as rhythm and the sound of the breath as melody – form a
specific poetics in “KUUKI” and “Future Beats”, two pieces created
separately, but with a shared respect for the little ones.

                                                                             25
“Future Beats” – An interplay for the senses
   Madeleine Fahl

When I describe a performance piece for babies aged six months            processed. This leads to more comprehensive and reliable informa-
and up that I have attended in its rehearsal phase with my nearly-        tion. Given this background, in order to gain access to the world,
15-month-old son, the reactions I get from those around me are            children need diverse, multifaceted opportunities for experience
often interested, but first mainly quizzical, surprised and rather        that offer them more precise information for their interpretation
amused. My neighbor voices his skepticism on the subject with an          of the world and their own experiences (see Fahl 2014, page 11).
instant remark: “What is that, puppet theater or Brecht already?”             Accordingly, from the very start, the performers of “Future
My impromptu reply is that it is neither one nor the other. Rather,       Beats” pursue the notion of meeting their young spectators at
the challenge lies in developing a play aimed at precisely this age       their current stage of development. This understanding of theater
group.                                                                    is grounded in a corresponding image of the competent infant,
                                                                          from the production’s initial development throughout its realiza-
I believe that this short anecdote presents a view that seems             tion. “Young children are recognized to be complete personalities
widespread in much of society: the assumption that theater is             at full value, capable of educating and developing themselves, if
simply not possible for babies, since they are unable to follow the       only they are allowed to do so” (Domrös 2015, page 36). Specifi-
action of a play. Therefore, what I had seen could not possibly be        cally, this means developing a play that appeals to the senses and
real theater.
    In my opinion, this line of thinking underestimates infants,
with all of the available abilities they have been using since birth,
at the latest, to perceive their surroundings. This approach reflects
an adult and very conventional understanding of theater that
actually cannot be reconciled with theater for babies. I intention-
ally use the term “theater” in this context, for “Future Beats” is
certainly that: The artists develop a play for their young audience
and orient themselves according to its stage of development.
    A healthy newborn can rely on a fully functional sensory sys­
tem at birth. However, its sensory perceptions vary in strength
and must continue to mature. A newborn child has already heard
the rhythm of its mother’s heartbeat and the sound and melody
of her voice while in the womb (see BZgA 2019a) and prefers
acoustic to visual stimuli at first.
    In its first years of life, a child continually refines its hearing
ability by perceiving and processing sounds from its surroundings
(see BZgA 2019 b). In this context, Gerd E. Schäfer (Schäfer 2006)
describes how newborns are already dependent on sensual expe-
riences in order to assimilate the environment and their surround-
ings. However, this occurs only within the scope of possibilities
offered to them from outside (see Fahl 2014, page 10 f.). Schäfer
emphasizes that, in accessing the world, the child is primarily
engaged in understanding it sensually, imitating, reshaping and           offers very young viewers opportunities for aesthetic interaction.
redesigning it. Within this process, the outside world is not simply      In this context, babies and their adult companions are invited to
depicted, but structured and evaluated on the basis of memories           consecutive rehearsals as a source of immediate feedback. Direc-
and experiences. In addition to visual information, acoustic, physi-      tor Bernd Sikora describes this very special target group after the
cal, atmospheric and emotional perceptions are also recorded and          first rehearsals as even more impartial than an audience aged

                                                                                                                                           27
two and up. By contrast, the perceptions of young babies are
     even more elementary, he says; their reactions are immediately
     recognizable. So the narrative dramatic arc shifts further into the
     background.
        Moments of aesthetic of experience have a primary signifi-
     cance for children’s educational processes, since infants and
     toddlers perceive their environment through sensual experiences
     while engaging with caregivers and objects, thereby developing
     learning and perception strategies (see Reinwand 2010, page 4).
        So it is not surprising how little spectators follow “Future
     Beats” on stage with such concentrated fascination. Most children
     and their adult caregivers sit on small cushions in a semicircle
     at the edge of the stage, directly in the midst of the action. The
     setting is designed so that no infant must be held in place. If a
     baby becomes curious and wants to explore the space indepen-
     dently, the performance structure enables it to do so. To prevent
     uncertainty, this possibility is communicated to the companion
     adults in advance. However, right at the outset, most children sit
     on laps or very close to their caregivers to watch what happens.
     The lights dim, followed by the first soft beats on the handmade
     stone instruments. In the center, a woman with long braids squats
     in a large upturned drum and rises very slowly to the rhythm of
     the music. She looks around and smiles. The anticipation of what
     might come next is palpable in the babies as well as the adults.
     The three performers lift their voices together in a song, relax-
     ing and caressing the spirit with a gentle melody. However, any
     assumptions that the performance is just awash in a warm rain
     of shallow beats and songs are mistaken. The rhythms change
     constantly – loud and quiet, fast and slow, the performer from the
     center dances and travels through the space, sometimes in calm
     movements, sometimes in quicker leaps. Standing, lying, squat-
     ting, sitting, with her legs and arms raised or to the side, always
     shifting form. She walks across the stage and taps the light bulbs
     hanging from the ceiling, which then glow in different colors.
     Nearly all the babies visibly follow the action with their gaze, lamp
     by lamp, along with repeated pointing fingers and audible expres-
     sions of “There!”. Each performance varies slightly, because the
     performers react to the babies’ individual reactions throughout
     the play. Some babies are bold and quickly set off on their own
     explorations, others wait a little longer or stay in the safe harbor
     close to their caregiver. The youngest baby I observed during a
     performance is two months old. She is held in her mother’s arms,
     occasionally breastfed, and sits quiet on Mama’s lap for long pe-
     riods, her eyes open, looking towards the stage. A ten-month-old
     girl observes very attentively for a long time, then crawls quickly
     to the center of the stage and climbs onto the drum. An up-and-
     down climbing game begins. Right after the first beats, an eleven-
     month-old boy gets interested in the instruments and begins to
     strike the pipes as well. With every performance, my son is drawn
     to the stage more quickly for his own experiments. While he sat
28
on my lap at the first rehearsal for a long while, by the fourth      Literature
showing, from early on he won’t be held back. He moves across         Domrös 2015: Dagmar Domrös, The young child as counterpart:
the stage to the sounds, while the performers matter-of-factly roll        The relation between the conception of humanity and artistic
the drum back and forth, maneuvering around him. Clearly the               understanding. In: Theater o. N. (Ed.): FRATZ Reflections. The
performers constantly receive impulses from their young audi-              young child as counterpart, Berlin 2015, p. 35 – 38
ences, creating new material. It is noticeable that the somewhat      BZgA 2019 a: Bundeszentrale für gesundheitliche Aufklärung
older children aged two and up find the dimmed lights and loud             (BZgA) (The Federal Center for Health Education), Sinn­liche
drumbeats challenging. This may be related to the fact that chil-          Wahr­nehmung (Sensory perception). https://www.
dren at this age develop a huge capacity for imagination and the           kindergesundheit-info.de/themen/entwicklung/0-12-
boundaries between reality and fantasy become fluid (see BZgA              monate/sinnliche-wahrnehmung/ (Last accessed on:
2019 c). The darkness is not tangible, so frightening ideas might          10 April 2019)
emerge from the subconscious. But by the time the performers          BZgA 2019 b: Bundeszentrale für gesundheitliche Aufklärung
pass out mallets for the instruments, everyone joins together on           (BZgA) (The Federal Center for Health Education), Das
stage in creative chaos.                                                   Hörvermögen des Säuglings (Hearing ability in infants).
                                                                           https://www.kindergesundheit-info.de/themen/
                                                                           entwicklung/0-12-monate/hoeren/ (Last accessed on:
                                                                           10 April 2019)
                                                                      BZgA 2019 c: Bundeszentrale für gesundheitliche Aufklärung
                                                                           (BZgA) (The Federal Center for Health Education), Manchmal
                                                                           hat die Nacht ihre Tücken (“Nighttime pitfalls” on sleep
                                                                           disturbances). https://www.kindergesundheit-info.de/
                                                                           themen/schlafen/1-6-jahre/schlafstoerer/ (Last accessed on:
                                                                           10 April 2019)
                                                                      Fahl 2014: Madeleine Fahl, Inwiefern werden bei Inszenierungen
                                                                           im Theater für die Jüngsten ästhetische Erfahrungen der
                                                                           Kinder trans­formiert ? Eine Untersuchung am Beispiel
                                                                           des Projektes “Große Sprünge” des Theater o. N. (How are
                                                                           children’s aesthetic experiences transformed by theater
                                                                           productions for the very young? A case study of the
                                                                           Theater o. N. project “Big Leaps”), Bachelors’ thesis at the
                                                                           Evangelische Hochschule Berlin, 2014, p. 10 – 11
“Future Beats” proves that a sensual approach makes theater for       Reinwand 2010: Vanessa-Isabelle Reinwand, “Der Anfang ist
babies possible. It gives the young audience another level of ac-          die Hälfte des Ganzen.” Frühkindliche Kulturelle Bildung
cess to the environment; adults have a wonderful opportunity to            als Ent­wick­lungs­chance (“Well begun is half done.” Early
accompany them and marvel at the fascination and energy with               childhood arts education as a developmental opportunity).
which they discover the world.                                             In: Bundesvereinigung Kulturelle Kinder- und Jugend­bildung
                                                                           e. V. (BKJ) (Ed.): Kulturelle Bildung. Reflexionen. Argumente.
                                                                           Impulse. Kulturelle Bildung von Anfang an, No. 06/2010,
                                                                           p. 4 – 6
                                                                      Schäfer 2006: Gerd E. Schäfer, Kinder sind von Anfang an not­
                                                                           wendig kreativ (Children are creative from the start out of
                                                                           necessity). In: Hildegard Bockhorst (Ed.): Kinder brauchen
                                                                           Spiel & Kunst. Bildungs­chancen von Anfang an – Ästhe­tisches
                                                                           Lernen in Kinder­­tages­­stätten. Schriftenreihe Kulturelle
                                                                           Bildung, Vol. 2, Munich 2006 (2nd expanded edition), p. 37 – 50

                                                                                                                                       29
“Did you think of the children?« A conversation we started
     Marie Yan
     Including an essay by Karina Griffith:
     For those children in the lonely place
In the genesis of the FRATZ International 2019 talk “Did you think    the future could look like. That is how I suggested we invite the
of the children?”, which occurred on the 6th of May, at first there   curator and filmmaker Karina Griffith to join us. Her work on the
were two artists: visual artist Freddy Tsimba, invited to the FRATZ   idea of repair and reparations, which permeated the 2017 “Repu­
Symposium along with the screening of the film “Système K”, 1 and     blik Repair” festival at Berlin’s Ballhaus Naunynstraße, was very
Hannah Biedermann, director of theatre for youth and children.        much about imagining the future: a future with repaired societies,
Freddy Tsimba works mostly on monumental sculptures, using            as she describes in the account below. What, then, was the rele­-
metals scraps, bullet cases, the blacksmith’s craft. At the time of   vance of their conversation for a children’s theatre festival – more-
the festival, Hannah Biedermann’s work had recently gotten a lot      over, one for very young children? At the time of planning the
of attention because of a debate surrounding her piece “Alle Jahre    festival, the Fridays for Future strikes had just started. Children
wieder” (“Year after year”), presented by the Schauspielhaus Bo-      and teenagers of all ages were now on the streets, questioning
chum in place of the traditional “Wintermärchen” (winter’s tales),    generations of adults for the decisions they had made that now
in which she had discussed different traditions with a culturally     threatened the collapse of our ecosystems. This led to the ques-
and racially diverse cast.                                            tion, “Did you think of the children?” as in: Did you, did we, did I,
                                                                      take children into consideration when making decisions about art
                                                                      practices or organisation, about anything that might shape the
                                                                      world, the space into which children move and grow? What is this
                                                                      “other world?” When and where is it taking place? For and by
                                                                      whom is it being built?

In the works of both artists, there was, and is, an urgency to work
with contemporary material and stories. Yet, their media show a
clear contrast between them: metal sculptures resisting the
passage of time versus ephemeral theatre pieces. The relation to
time, as well as the racial dynamics surrounding the reception of
their work, would be the centre from which they could exchange.       This is how this conversation started, before an audience of thea-
Keeping in mind that the theme of this year’s Symposium was           tre-makers, artists, students and cultural workers. The conversa-
“Another World” – a future world, the choice of a third guest         tion was held under quite unique multilingual circumstances. Each
became obvious, whose work would have directly addressed how          of the panellists wished to speak in one of their native languages:
30
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